With the current Covid-19 situation, it may seem like the tech-activities that we can do at this time are limited. Don’t worry, the Coding Lab team has got you covered!

Two-Hour Easter Parent-Child Workshop

We’re having an online two-hour Easter parent-child workshop, where you and your child can program a bunny to go on an Easter Egg Hunt together for just $10. Decorate Easter eggs and hold your child’s hands as you kickstart their coding journey!
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Details:
Thursday, 9 April 2020
4.30pm – 6.30pm
Online
$10 (U.P. $55)

For more details, click here.

For the Facebook event page, click here.


Home-Based Learning (HBL) $10 Trials

Begin your online learning with Coding Lab! Not sure if it’s for your child? Our two-hour $10 trials (U.P. $55) will let them have a shot at programming simple games and animations with Scratch or pick up Python, one of the most popular programming languages. Feel free to contact our HBL concierge team that is always on-hand to help with any queries – we strive to make the transition to online learning as seamless as possible, especially in this digital era.

Home-Based Learning

Details:
Date: Multiple dates available
Duration: 2 hours
Online
$10 (U.P. $55)

For more details, click here.


5 Things To Do While Staying Home

Quarantine, social distancing and Stay-Home Notices got you and your family bored? We’ve put together five suggestions that can get your kiddos all revved up about technology.

5 Stay at Home Tips

Click here to listen to Software Engineer.


With news that we have to suspend our physical classes, our usual weekly classes for the age groups of 7-910-12 and 13-18 will still continue from home. We aim to make this transition as seamless as possible for you and your children, so here are 5 Tips from the Coding Lab team on how our HBL coding classes can be maximised:

Maximise HBL Newsletter

It’s simple to sign up for a HBL class with us. If in doubt, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to assist you. We’ll even send an E-Learning package your way – and a complimentary introduction to ease the transition to online, home-based learning. After all, it’s our goal to nurture future leaders of technology!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out our March techtivities at Sentosa and online!

Our non-profit Tiny Thinkers initiative began as a bold Final-Year Project for a team of Nanyang Technological University undergraduates, which has been well received and reached out to many under their leadership. As they graduate, they pass the baton on to five other undergraduates – who, although all happen to be from the National University of Singapore, are diverse and bring their own unique set of strengths to the table. 

Let’s meet the fresh new team powering the second year of Tiny Thinkers.

Chairperson: Candice Wang

“It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”

Candice, with a Computational Thinking Kit, at the NLB Volunteers Training
Candice, with a Computational Thinking Kit, at the NLB Volunteers Training

As a mother of two and Director of Coding Lab, Candice understands parents and oversees the operations and community engagement sectors. She admits that it is no easy feat to be a part of Tiny Thinkers for the second year running, organising activities and packing kits. But with a new team, she says, “It’s exciting to have many interested young talents who bring their unique interests, personalities and know-how to make things happen. It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”

With 2020 ahead, she is excited that Tiny Thinkers will be able to impact more than 7,000 young lives across many preschools and libraries in Singapore with the Junior Computational Thinking (CT) kit, which covers all 4 pillars of CT (Abstraction, Algorithm, Decomposition and Pattern Recognition). “This kit has been heavily oversubscribed and we still have a long waitlist of preschools asking for it,” she said. “Our volunteers are working hard to pack kits so it can promptly reach preschools and libraries across Singapore. We are very proud of this kit, developed in conjunction with our partners (IMDA, Skool4kids and Nexus), which infuses Total Defense values into CT and most importantly, encourages parent-child bonding.”

President: Thinzar Htet

“While it is tiring, I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”

Thinzar manning the Tiny Thinkers booth at the National Library Board's kidsREAD 15th anniversary carnival
Thinzar manning the Tiny Thinkers booth at the National Library Board’s kidsREAD 15th anniversary carnival

The former intern at Coding Lab initially helped out with Tiny Thinkers activities and was inspired to keep the flame burning after her internship ended. Thinzar recalls her experiences during Tiny Thinkers workshops, where she shared the joy of coding with parents and witnessed children enjoying themselves. “When parents hear the aim of Tiny Thinkers, they inquire and remark that it is an interesting and great thing that we are doing. These instances make me feel proud of what I have done and want to continue, despite the difficulties.” 

The second-year Sociology student was always interested in education and working with children, “So I thought that it was fitting to be a part of something meaningful like Tiny Thinkers, which equips children with the valuable skill of Computational Thinking. While it is tiring,” she admits, “I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”

Head of Talent Acquisition: Shravya Murali

“I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself.”

Shravya (on the right) at the Mendaki Learning Festival
Shravya (on the right) at the Mendaki Learning Festival

A firm believer that every child should have access to education – specifically, computational education – regardless of their background, Shravya is on a journey to make her life more meaningful. “I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself,” the second-year Life Sciences student said. This led to her joining the Tiny Thinkers team. “I had chances to converse with parents at the Tiny Thinkers booth during the Smart Nation & U event, and they seemed impressed and appreciated what Tiny Thinkers was doing.” 

Just like Thinzar, this motivated Shravya to continue her work with Tiny Thinkers, knowing that it benefits others. She also spent her December holidays as an intern educator with Coding Lab, gaining more experience in teaching children while also interacting with parents. When asked about what she’s anticipating for in 2020, the avid volunteer said: “I am excited for more Tiny Thinkers events to come!”

Head of Training and Development: Jeffrey Tan

“I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time … I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here.”

Head of Training and Development, Jeffrey
Jeffrey giving a talk about computational thinking at the Smart Nation & U event

During one of his volunteer stints, Jeffrey was observed to have been working excellently with kids and was approached by Shravya to be a part of Tiny Thinkers. “I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time,” the third-year Computational Biology student enthused, citing the aims of Tiny Thinkers as the inspiration for joining. “They are very clear, achievable and most importantly, meaningful. I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here. I am able to multiply my value through training volunteers and subsequently gather feedback to improve the materials.” 

On Tiny Thinkers activities, Jeffrey mentions that it is heartwarming how parents are also involved. “It’s always nice to witness the parent-child physical connection especially in today’s increasingly digitalised society,” he remarked. “While the background of a family often plays a part in a child’s education, we strive to put everyone on the same starting line as we welcome the digital age.” 

Head of Marketing: Lakshmi Suresh

“I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others.”

Lakshmi giving a talk at the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Conference
Lakshmi giving a talk at the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Conference

The bubbly second-year Business student was a former intern educator at Coding Lab, where she also helped out with marketing activities. Lakshmi’s interest in entrepreneurship and social service was what led her to be a part of the team. “I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others,” she said. “Once I heard about Tiny Thinkers and their vision, I felt immediately drawn to helping the team out by tapping on my personal strengths.” 

In managing media channels and disseminating messages, her dedication is further spurred on by the effects of what she does. “I really love it when the publicity successfully attracts people to attend our events and to see parents and children have fun warms my heart,” she gushed. “I hope that Tiny Thinkers can be understood as an organisation that is out to make a difference, and that we can get more volunteers and participants to make our vision a reality!”

Head of Logistics: Senthamaraiselvan Pooja

“Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children.”

Pooja (on the right) at the ECDA Conference
Pooja (on the right) at the ECDA Conference

The second-year Biomedical Engineering student is in charge of ensuring that the materials and kits are delivered to the right place and at the right time. “I wish that I received more exposure to computational thinking at a young age,” Pooja confessed. “But by joining the Tiny Thinkers team, I find great delight in being part of a team that equips today’s children with this skill. This is especially critical now as Singapore is moving towards becoming a Smart Nation, so computational thinking would definitely be highly relevant in many future jobs.” 

When asked how she manages to juggle school and studies, Pooja mentioned that just being focused on studying can make life dull. “Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children,” she said.

 

The Tiny Thinkers team. Back row (from left): Jeffrey and Shravya Front row (from left): Lakshmi, Thinzar and Pooja
The Tiny Thinkers team. Back row (from left): Jeffrey and Shravya
Front row (from left): Lakshmi, Thinzar and Pooja

What’s next for Tiny Thinkers?

  • Conducting sessions for various preschools about the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit
  • Working with National Library Board’s kidsREAD programme to distribute 3,500 computational thinking kits to beneficiaries
  • More workshops to empower more kids and achieve the target of 7000 kits to be given out!
The recent Tiny Thinkers training of around 100 NLB Volunteers with guests Ms Low Tze Hui from IMDA and NLB KidsRead Manager Ms Pearle Chua.
The recent Tiny Thinkers training with close to 100 NLB Volunteers. Ms Low Tze Hui from IMDA and NLB KidsRead Manager Ms Pearle Chua and her NLB team posing with the Tiny Thinkers Team.

About Tiny Thinkers:

A non-profit campaign by Coding Lab that aims to empower and educate parents to kickstart their little one’s journey in Computational Thinking. For more information, please click here. Tiny Thinkers is also featured on IMDA’s website here.

You can also join the Tiny Thinkers team as a volunteer or work with them as a corporate volunteer by filling up this form: https://forms.gle/ezNGx38Q6EYnZgWR6. You can also keep up to date with them on Facebook or Instagram.

Game Master. App Guru. Math Whiz. Storyteller. What kind of a coder are you?

FINAL FB_What Kind Of A Coder Are You

Let our exciting quiz, specially designed to help you uncover your talent, lead you to discover the path that you were destined for!

Discover your coder personality here… 

Take our quiz!

Did you catch Tiny Thinkers at the National Library Board’s (NLB) kidsREAD 15th Anniversary Carnival?

Thinzar, the President of Tiny Thinkers, explaining the Junior Computational Thinking kits to the children at booth.
Thinzar, the President of Tiny Thinkers, explaining the Junior Computational Thinking kits to children at the booth.

On 9th November, Tiny Thinkers was invited to celebrate the 15th anniversary of NLB’s kidsREAD programme. Tiny Thinkers had a booth for children to kickstart their Computational Thinking journey with our Junior Computational Thinking kit. The kit, developed by Tiny Thinkers and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), allows children to plan a character’s story and also included hands-on activities for parents to complete with their children at home.

President Halimah Yacob with (from left) Ms Low Tze Hui, Manager of Infocomm Media Development Authority and her son, Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, Candice, Co-Founder of Coding Lab,
Our Tiny Thinkers team (in orange), Coding Lab Co-Founder Candice (third from left), and Amazon Web Services volunteers (in blue) taking a photo with President Halimah Yacob and Ms Low Tze Hui (far left), Manager, Infocomm Media Development Authority, and her son, Luke.

Thank you to President Halimah Yacob, Mr S Iswaran (Minister for Communications and Information), and Ms Low Tze Hui, for stopping by our booth to find out more about Tiny Thinkers and our goals for the children of Singapore!

Luke showing President Halimah Yacob what he learned from the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit. (Source: President Halimah's Facebook page)
Luke even had the opportunity to show President Halimah Yacob what he learned from the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit. (Source: President Halimah Yacob’s Facebook, MCI Photo by Lee Jia Wen)

Tiny Thinkers is proud to have been able to collaborate with NLB to reach out to more parents about the importance of Computational Thinking in today’s digital economy. This is especially relevant as this year’s kidsREAD programme was focused on promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.

A volunteer from Amazon Web Services guiding two young children through the Junior Computational Kits.
A volunteer from Amazon Web Services guiding two young children through the Junior Computational Kits.

Throughout the year, we worked closely with NLB to hold free one-hour workshops titled ‘Tiny Thinkers On The Go’ at Tampines and Jurong Regional Libraries, where our Junior Computational Thinking kits were also distributed. We hope that participants of all our Tiny Thinkers events enjoyed completing the kit activities and that this jumpstarts their interests in computational thinking!

Thank you to all the Amazon Web Services (AWS) volunteers from AWS InCommunities and Connect@Amazon for collaborating with us for this event!
Thank you to all the Amazon Web Services (AWS) volunteers for collaborating with us for this event!

We also want to thank our Amazon Web Services volunteers who helped us to guide the children and spread the word about computational thinking among the event’s participants! We couldn’t have reached out to as many people without their assistance, persistence and love.

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, dropped by our booth to have a chat with Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, and our Amazon Web Services volunteers.
Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, also dropped by our booth to have a chat with Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, and our Amazon Web Services volunteers.

Tiny Thinkers will also continue to collaborate with NLB next year, where free Junior Computational Thinking Kits will be given out to 3,500 participants of the kidsREAD programme to equip them with the tools to be digitally-ready.

More children trying their hand at our Junior Computational Thinking kits!
More children trying their hand at our Junior Computational Thinking kits!

If you weren’t able to get a kit this year, fret not! We know that as parents, we all want to give our children a headstart in this digital age. Do keep a lookout on our Tiny Thinkers page (or Facebook page) for updates on what we’re doing and on our future events!

Another Amazon Web Services volunteer assisting participants in Computational Thinking.
Another Amazon Web Services volunteer assisting participants in Computational Thinking.

2020 definitely looks like an exciting year ahead for our Tiny Thinkers!

About kidsREAD
A nationwide reading programme launched in 2004, it encourages positive attitudes towards reading and aims to inculcate good reading habits among young Singaporeans of all races, and especially those from low-income families.

For more information, please click here.

About Tiny Thinkers
A non-profit campaign by Coding Lab that aims to empower and educate parents to kickstart their little one’s journey in Computational Thinking.

For more information, please click here.

Coding Lab was invited to be a part of Project We Care Garden Party at the Istana on 1st September 2019. Our founders and volunteer tutors were on-hand and eager to impart their coding knowledge to people of all ages at the booth.

Coding is for everyone of any age!
Coding is for everyone of any age!

The bi-annual social wellness event by the People’s Association reached out to 1,500 beneficiaries from low-income families, the less privileged children, and the elderly. Visitors to Coding Lab’s booth were treated to a programming feast as they got to code Photon robots to ‘eat’ mooncakes, ketupats, putu mayams and cupcakes (Each delicacy representing one of the major ethnic groups in Singapore!).

Our Founders with Mr Chan Chun Sing, Deputy Chairman of the People's Association and Minister for Trade and Industry, at the Project We Care event.
Our Founders with Mr Chan Chun Sing, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association and Minister for Trade and Industry, at the Project We Care event.

Coding Lab has been working to bring programming to communities as part of this initiative. Our volunteers have taught Python to youths and conducted workshops on app usage for the elderly. We are proud to do our part in spreading digital literacy in Singapore.

It’s Coding Lab’s honour to be a part of Project We Care Garden Party at the Istana, where we were able to showcase and share with others the joy of coding and programming. Thank you to the People’s Association for giving us the opportunity to participate in this meaningful initiative to give back to the community – we can’t wait for our next corporate social responsibility event!

About Project We Care

Started in 2012 by People’s Association, the project aims to rally businesses to contribute to meaningful causes in the community and to encourage volunteerism. The bi-annual Garden Party @ Istana partners with corporations to bring joy to beneficiaries through fun and engaging activities.

To find out more about Project We Care, click here.

Coding Lab and Tiny Thinkers were at the inaugural Smart Nation & U event on 30th November and 1st December to spread the coding word to families through fun. If you weren’t there, here’s the rundown on the things that happened!

Wai Yee, our Operations Manager, sharing with a parent what we do here at Coding Lab.
Wai Yee, our Operations Manager, sharing with a parent what we do here at Coding Lab.

The collaborative two-day event between Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was held at Downtown East to share how new technologies are transforming the ways that we work, live and play. Indeed, the future is digital and it is essential to spark interests in tech – especially in our children.

A participant using a micro:bit to play a Scratch game.
A participant using a micro:bit to play a Scratch game.

Coding Lab engaged children with our wireless micro:bits, which were connected to Scratch games on the laptop. This gave them a peek into what we do in our Young Computer Scientists (for ages 7 to 9) and Advanced Computer Scientists (for ages 10 to 12) classes.

Lakshmi, Head of Marketing at Tiny Thinkers, getting parents and their children acquainted with the workshop and tips on how they can navigate in a Smart Nation.
Lakshmi, Head of Marketing at Tiny Thinkers, getting parents and their children acquainted with the workshop and sharing tips on how they can navigate in a Smart Nation.

On the other hand, Tiny Thinkers held free Tiny Thinkers On The Go workshops that distributed free Junior Computational Thinking kits for exciting parent-child activities.

Parents working on the Junior Computational Thinking kits alongside their child, and with the help of a Smart Nation Ambassador.
Parents working on the Junior Computational Thinking kits alongside their child, and with the help of a Smart Nation Ambassador.

We would like to thank our participants for joining us at our workshops, as well as the Smart Nation Ambassadors who were on-hand and actively facilitated learning among parents and children!

Coding has no age limit – we shared information on coding with people of all ages!
Coding has no age limit – we shared information on coding with people of all ages!

Coding Lab and Tiny Thinkers are pleased to work with Smart Nation Singapore once again at the Smart Nation & U event, to move towards the goal of Singapore becoming a world-class city with a leading economy powered by digital innovation. We look forward to the next time that we get to join forces again!

About Smart Nation Singapore
It is a nationwide initiative by the Singapore Government to harness the power of technology to build a Digital Economy, Digital Government and Digital Society. It was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, who described the goal and future of this nation-building initiative as a Singapore “where we can create possibilities for ourselves beyond what we imagined possible”.

For more information, please click here.

How to choose the first programming language for your kids

Which programming language should I choose? Can my child really pick up programming when he is only 9 years old?

These are some of the common questions that we hear  from parents. Choosing the first programming language for kids can be a little confusing. However, if you are planning to send your children to kids coding classes, you may wonder which language your little ones should start with. Computer programming for kids should be a fun and enjoyable experience. You should choose a language that is easy to learn, lets your kids learn the basics quickly, and provides a strong online community to support its users. The options are many; hence the confusion. However, don’t worry! Here are some tips on how to choose the first programming language for your kids.

Important things to consider

First things first, identify your objective. What do your kids want to accomplish with coding? Once you have a set goal, choosing a language becomes easier. For instance, Python (the reigning global #1 language in popularity) is a great option for those planning to create games or seeking a lucrative career opportunity, going forward. Some other factors to consider include:

  • Whether it is easy to use for beginners – Ideally, your kids should start with a coding language that lets them understand the basics without having to learn the complex vocabulary and syntax first. If your kids speak English, you may want to choose a coding language that has a vocabulary similar to that of the English language. Also, check the level of difficulty one has to face when learning a language. You can join online forums and read reviews to get an idea of what would be the right choice for your kids. Another alternative to foster a child the interest in programming is to provide them with coding books so that they will be exposed to what programming world is all about.
  • Whether they have a strong community – If they have an active, responsive community, you can ask questions and get the answers quickly. This makes learning easier for your kids. Most of the popular languages have a large, responsive community. Let’s take a look at some good options.

Popular programming languages for kids

Scratch – Suitable for Ages 8 upwards, Scratch is one of the most popular language options to start your kids on programming. It is the introductory programming language in many acclaimed universities around the world, including the Harvard University. This graphic based coding language is easy to learn and is highly recommended as the first language to start on. We also like the fact that preschoolers as young as 5 can create their own programming stories with their Scratch Junior for tablets!

MIT App Inventor – Like Scratch, MIT lets your kids’ innovate and improve their creative thinking ability, using a simple drag and drop interface. It also gives them a chance to create video games on their mobile devices, making it easy for the whole family to beat each other’s high score over dinner.

Python – We would recommend that your child moves on to Python after he has gotten a sold grasp of programming concepts and computational thinking using Scratch or MIT App Inventor, both of which cut down the tedium of memorising syntax and let kids skip straight to the actual programming with immediate output that they can understand.

That being said, the best thing about Python is that it can be used for many purposes, starting from creating web apps and video games to extracting data from the web. If your kids are good at mathematics, they will love to see the practical application of their math lessons in Python. Also, starting from 2017, 19 schools in Singapore will include Python as a key component of the “O” Levels for the subject, Computing.

Final thoughts

Starting your child on programming, like any new skill, requires constant practice. Regardless of which language you choose, computational thinking is an integral part of life. Don’t underestimate how you can help them along by spending quality time with them; for example, asking them to solve debugging puzzles every night, or even debating logically based on facts over dinner over different topics. Let them design robot cars that carry the keys to you every morning, or maybe even a doorbell for the house. Hopefully, these little projects will continue to inspire them to not only pick up programming, but also adopt it as a lifelong hobby.

6 Ways to foster creativity in children

Encouraging our kids to be creative is something all parents yearn to do. Creativity is an essential asset for your child’s personality, not only for artistic pursuits, but also for developing social skills and emotional intelligence. In the past, researchers thought of creativity as the ability to generate lots of new ideas. However, in recent years, researchers have viewed not only creativity and ideas as important, but also the ability to select the best ideas and apply them to specific problems as a key to success. Coding classes for kids are popular these days, as are activities like origami and theatre classes. Here are some ways to foster creativity in your kids.

Foster unstructured playtime

Give children time to explore their faculties –  Let them engage in their imaginative games and encourage them to test the limits of their imagination. Use the same toy for different games. Can the same stuffed toy bear be used both as a Villian and a Hero? A Captain or a Pirate? It’s all up to them! Recycle your costumes, art supplies and used containers and you’d be amazed at the things children come up with!

Encourage a divergent thought process

Other than teaching the essential skills that your child needs, it is also important to let children think freely. Give them the chance to express a ‘divergent’ opinion, even if it may be factually incorrect. Let them understand that there will always be more than one solution to a certain problem. Encouraging your child to go beyond conventional answers will broaden their horizons challenge them to think beyond the “right” answer.

Kick-start their senses using their surroundings

Activating your child’s senses is highly important. Museums, libraries and even parks are perfect (and free!) options to set their minds thinking. Engage their imaginative faculties by asking questions about travelling and places. For instance, ask them what they enjoyed most about their walk in the park, what type of flowers/animals they saw and so on. This also helps them feel comfortable in and recognise different spaces.

Encourage the use of the right devices

Limiting screen time has been deemed essential for kids to develop creativity. However, it does not mean you should keep them isolated from the world of technology. Computer programming for kids allows them to apply their mathematics from school, and trains their logical thinking and problem decomposition abilities . For kids of reading age, handheld e-book readers or kids coding books are also good devices and tools to encourage kids to read from young. Let them become creators and masters of technology, and not succumb as merely consumers of technology (Eg. Screen Time, TV, Youtube)

Introduce multi-sensory learning

Use phenomena like sound, texture, taste, movement and visuals in their daily playtime. Turn on the radio to your favourite station and make up dance moves for the whole family! Or bake a cake with the kids and teach them valuable concepts such as measurement, weight, time, and indulge their senses of taste and smell with that lovely batter you have made!

Teach them programming

Coding classes for kids have been proven to help kids develop an analytical thought process.  Not only that, with new block-based software such as Scratch and App Inventor, both developed by MIT, children  can now pick-up coding as young as the age of 4 and create their own games, apps and animations. With many different options such as Art x Coding, Nursery Rhymes x Coding and even Python x Minecraft, the real power lies in marrying entirely different domains together, to create something amazing, that hones your childs’ creativity, and is applicable in many aspects of their lives.